My name is Shawn and I have been an avid golfer for over 35 years. That’s me in the middle of the picture below standing on the tee of the first hole of the “Old Course” at the home of golf, St. Andrews. And behind us is the famed Royal and Ancient Golf Club, what a magnificent looking building!
It was always a dream of mine to be able to play at St. Andrews and when my family moved to England back in 2003, I thought this was going to be the best chance for me to fulfill my dream. A few of my golfing buddies in Ottawa joined up with me in St. Andrews for a “once in a lifetime experience”. One thing I did not know about St. Andrews, is that it is actually a “public” golf course, which means that anyone can play, providing they have a proper golf handicap and lots of money. It was surprising to see people walk the course with their dogs as we were playing our round! Back in 2005, the green fees were approximately 110 pounds sterling, which in Canadian dollars equated to approximately $250 per person, per round, but thankfully the golf package that we got made it much more affordable. See below for more information on the Craigmore Guest House.
When we checked in at the pro shop, each golfer was given a one foot long by six inch wide peace of astro turf mat. We, of course, asked what this was for and they explained that if our shot landed in the fairway, we were to pick up our ball, put the piece of astro turf mat on the ground, and then place the ball on that before making our next shot. The reason for this was because the year we played there (2005) also happened to be the year when the British Open was once again going to be played, and they didn’t want any divot marks in the fairways. If our ball landed in the rough, then it was okay to play out of the rough as you would normally do. What I found out afterwards was that the astro turf mats are actually used on all courses between the months of November and February every year, with The Old Course and The Castle Course using them until the end of March.
Here’s a picture of the famous road hole bunker on the 17th hole. It is amazing to think that people can actually hit their ball out of this bunker, it is so steep. Thankfully, I never hit my ball into it, or I’d still be trying to get out. Speaking of bunkers, they were building a couple of new bunkers in preparation for the British Open later that year. It was amazing to watch them get built! Some of these bunkers are so deep, that when you stand in them, you’re looking up and you can’t see out!
If you’re interested in checking this item off your bucket list and want to play golf at St. Andrews, here is the email of the CRAIGMORE GUEST HOUSE where we stayed as part of the golf package. I’m sure there are many other places that will offer golf packages as well, but this is the place that we dealt with and they were great. They will make the arrangements and book the tee-times on your behalf, at least they did when I played there back in 2005. You will also need to provide proof of a handicap card that you would get from your home course. Without that, you won’t be able to play.
If you do manage to get a tee time at the Old Course, and you don’t want to pay for a caddie, which is always an option, this link provides information on how to play the course, hole by hole, complete with pictures. I hope this helps, it sure did when I played!